• Weekly Cocktail #50: The Brooklyn Cocktail

    Pouring a Brooklyn cocktail.

    Pouring a Brooklyn cocktail.

    One of the many things we enjoy about the blog is that we get to “follow the muse”. Yes there are seasons, events and themes to guide us, but in the end we get to do what makes us happy. That’s the point, plus we usually get a few tasty dishes and drinks out of the deal and have excuses to invite friends over. (Have we found the secret to happiness? Maybe.)

    brooklyn1brooklynSo while we could be blogging on Mint Juleps for the Kentucky Derby (we like them, but not all that much), and we owe our friend Viveka a cocktail for winning our quiz (working on it Wivi!), we somehow found ourselves mixing a Brooklyn cocktail. And the Brooklyn cocktail is worth a try, particularly if you are a whiskey fan. And even if you aren’t, this smooth sip may surprise you.

    brooklyn2brooklyn6The Brooklyn combines rye whiskey, dry vermouth, a dash of maraschino liqueur and a dash of Amer Picon. No one seems to have Amer Picon (a French digestif) these days, so most sources suggest amaro like Ramazotti, CioCiaro, Nonino or Montenegro. The recipe is flexible and all of these will work, we went with the Ramazotti, but also liked it with Nonino (we like a lot of stuff with Nonino). You can even just go with a mix of orange and Angostura bitters in a pinch.

    brooklyn3If you notice a pattern with many of our cocktail posts, we tend to like to match rye whiskey with dry, rather than sweet, vermouth. Rye is dryer and spicier than bourbon, and we think you often lose those notes with some sweet vermouths (not always, but sometimes). If we want to enjoy the flavor of the rye, the herbal notes of a good dry vermouth seem like a natural fit. And we do like the combination in drinks like the Scofflaw (and our variant, the Tax Evasion ), so it isn’t that much of a surprise that the “muse” guided us towards the Brooklyn. (Or maybe it was Google….)

    brooklyn7So what do you get with the Brooklyn? Firstly, you get a beautiful looking drink with deep golden hues. Lovely. As for the flavor, you get a smooth and slightly sweet sip, but with the spice of the rye, herbal vemouth and the bitter notes of the amaro keeping the flavor from becoming cloying. The maraschino adds some sweet, floral and nutty flavors. Basically, the Brooklyn is a dryer, smoother riff on a Manhattan. But since Brooklyn is way cooler than Manhattan these days, we think it makes sense that they have the smoother drink. (And speaking of Brooklyn- Hi Tina, Jonathan, Max and William!)

    brooklyn5The Brooklyn Cocktail:

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. rye whiskey (Rittenhouse 100)
    • 1 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin)
    • 1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur (Luxardo)
    • 1/2 oz. Amer Picon (sub Ramazotti or other amaro)

    Assemble:

    1. Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail glass with ice. Stir until well chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé. Serve.
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  • Weekly Cocktail #27: The Junior (and the Frisco Sour)

    The Junior Cocktail

    With the labor day weekend coming up we decided to give you an extra cocktail…. In reality, the Junior and the Frisco Sour are both great drinks but serve to illustrate just how different you can make a cocktail by just changing a key ingredient. In this case, both the Junior and Frisco Sour include rye whiskey and Benedictine, but the Junior includes lime juice and a dash of bitters while the Frisco Sour includes the more traditional lemon juice.

    And we say “more traditional” because most citrus drinks that include whiskey or cognac use lemon juice. Meanwhile, most gin and tequila cocktails include lime juice. (Rum plays well with anything and everything, it seems). But rules or traditions are meant to be broken, particularly in the world of food and spirits- so it is fun to play with aberrations like the Junior. And the Junior is a good cocktail. The spice of the rye goes well with the sour lime and herbal flavors of the Benedictine and bitters. But it is a tart sip- we like it, some may not. If you like a smoother and sweeter cocktail, the Frisco Sour with its lemon juice and no bitters might be the best choice. Basically, the Frisco Sour is a more complex (and much better IMHO) version of the Whiskey Sour. But since its pretty easy to make both of these cocktails, try them and decide for yourself.

    As for the spirits in these cocktails, any good rye whiskey will do. Both Bulleit and Rittenhouse are good and inexpensive rye. We also like the High West rye and Redemption, but they are a bit of a step-up in price. And as our exploration of rye continues, we very much recommend it as a key spirit in any home bar. From Scofflaws to Manhattans, we think rye makes great cocktails. And there is no real substitute for Benedictine, but since we already have some for Lani-Honis (very similar to a Frisco Sour, btw) we like to use it. But Benedictine is a good classic cocktail ingredient, and a little goes a long way- so worth seeking out.

    As for the names and provenance of both drinks, their origins are lost to history. But as any long time Bay Area resident can tell you, nobody says “Frisco” to describe San Francisco, but maybe they did 100 years ago, who knows? Regardless, there is a good New York Times article on the Frisco Sour here that describes how murky cocktail recipes and history can be. Unfortunately, there is even less information on the Junior cocktail out there. Even cocktail historian David Wondrich has little to offer other than saying the Junior is a tasty, if somewhat off-beat drink. But, in the end, a tasty drink is more than enough for us.

    The Junior Cocktail:

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. rye whiskey
    • 1/2 oz. lime juice
    • 1/2 oz. Benedictine
    • 1 dash Angostura bitters

    Assemble:

    1. Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, flute or coupé. Serve.

    —–

    The Frisco Sour Cocktail:

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. rye whiskey
    • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
    • 1/2 oz. Benedictine

    Assemble:

    1. Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, flute or coupé. Serve.